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The Fine Art of Storytelling by Diana Raab
Lately I have found myself contemplating the fine art of storytelling. Some people are wonderful at it and others just want to make you yawn. The idea of storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images, sounds and embellishments. It is a way to express the emotional power of information. Robert McKee, in his book, Story, says “Stories are equipment for living.” In fact, when a story is told well, the listener is transported on a journey to a new place.
According to John Gardner, "Like other kinds of intelligence, the storyteller is partly natural, partly trained. It is composed of several qualities, most of which, in normal people, are signs of either immaturity or incivility: wit (a tendency to make irreverent connections); obstinacy and a tendency toward churlishness (a refusal to believe what all sensible people know is true); childishness (an apparent lack of mental focus and serious life purpose, a fondness for daydreaming and telling pointless lies, a lack of proper respect, mischievousness, an unseemly propensity for crying over nothing); a marked tendency toward oral or anal fixation or both (the oral manifested by excessive eating, drinking, smoking, and chattering; the anal by nervous cleanliness and neatness coupled with a weird fascination with dirty jokes); remarkable powers of eidetic recall, or visual memory (a usual feature of early adolescence and mental retardation); a strange admixture of shameless playfulness and embarrassing earnestness, the latter often heightened by irrationally intense feelings for or against religion; patience like a cat’s; a criminal streak of cunning; psychological instability; recklessness, impulsiveness, and improvidence; and finally, an inexplicable and incurable addiction to stories, written or oral, bad or good. Not all writers have exactly these same virtues, of course. Occasionally one finds one who is not abnormally improvident."
The holiday season is a good time to share stories amongst friends and family. Some people are better at verbal storytelling, while others, like myself, prefer to revert to the written word. Many of our preferences and comfort zones reflect back to the patterns of our childhoods. As an only child of working parents, I spent a lot of time reading and writing in my journal. My parents were first generation immigrants and worked very long hours to provide food for our table. Dinners were often rushed with a minimum amount of storytelling unless we had a visitor who probed us. As a result, I was raised with books and paper, but gravitated to friends who were good storytellers because my situation made me a good listener. Things haven’t changed. I am who I am.
Lately, I've become good friends with a few great storytellers and I have been captivated, mesmerized and curious about what it is that’s missing for me to tell a good story. I have also done some reading to improve my own verbal storytelling (my family often tells me, I neglect to build up the tension and/or I omit the punch line). Heading into my sixth decade, I plan to improve this. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- Before telling your story, you need to know it well and/or memorize it- Vary the pitch in your voice when telling a story- Make sure your facial expressions coincide with the story’s mood- Make sure the sequence of events is correct- Build up to the story’s climax- When finished do not go on to another story- Practice storytelling in front of a mirror
One thing I also read was the importance of putting on a “story hat.” In other words, just before you are to tell a story, put on your story hat which gets you in the mood to tell your story. It is a way to take your mind off your audience, particularly if you are on the shy side.
If you are curious about some more tips in this area, I suggest you check out a great you-tube on the subject, called, “Storytelling: Theory and Practice.”
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The rights to Eastern Wisdom for Your Souls has just been purchased by a Chinese Publisher. They will release the title for all of China to enjoy.
The newest book Now: Embracing the present Moment will be officially released in July of 2011. This is going to be a big one.
Check out my upcoming book
Now: Embracing the Present Moment
Destined to be a Best Seller
Officially Released in July 2011
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Allbooks Reviews INTERVIEW:
Please state your name and location: Jay Prasad, New York City.
Tell us the title and publisher of your book: “Fabulous Voyage Across the Ocean Sea”, published by Wings e Press, Richmond, Kentucky.
Tell us about yourself: I am a playwright and a novelist. My plays “Daily Sounds” and “Oregon” have been shown in New York City. “Fabulous Voyage Across the Ocean Sea” is my first novel.
When was the book released?: June 2010
Give us an overview of your book: The Atlantic Ocean used to be called the Ocean Sea during the Middle Ages. Sailors were afraid of crossing it and no one believed that Columbus would return when he undertook that journey. My book consists of three linked narratives by three members of the D’Avila family who traveled with Columbus in his four voyages. They describe the internal tumult in Spain caused by the Inquisition and the havoc raised by Columbus’s obsession with acquiring gold in the new lands they discovered.
What inspired you to write this book? Five years ago, as a guest in someone’s house, I read an old hardcover book called “Twelve Against the Gods” by William Bolitho. One of the men he spoke about in that book was Columbus. After reading it, I became obsessed with the idea of writing a novel about Columbus. After a year of research and two years of writing, the book was published.
How is your book different from other books in this genre? I don’t read many contemporary novels, especially historical fiction. All I can say is that the model I had in mind when I was writing my book was Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, and you can find many obvious parallels between the two books.
Where can people buy your book? The book is sold as an ebook as well as a paperback in many stores including Amazon. It can also be bought from the publisher Wings e Press. If you google, you would find several outlets where the book is sold.
Are you working on another book? If so when do you expect it to be published? I am working on two novels – one about D. H. Lawrence, and the other about a young man’s life in New York during the first few weeks after 9/11.
If you self published, what advice can you give to fellow writers? N/A
If published traditionally, tell us how you benefited: I had a good editor who helped me streamline the manuscript.
Can you share one of your marketing successes with us? It’s a slow process to promote a book. Get as many reviews as possible and it will help the non-ebook sales. I don’t know what the best strategy is for ebooks. No one else seems to know either.
How did you find Allbooks Reviews and what are you hoping for in your relationship with us? I found you on the internet, and I am hoping to promote my book through you.
Was the low cost a surprise? What other things would you like Allbooks Reviews to offer writers? The low cost was a surprise; also, you are a friendly group, with quick response.
Thank you for this interview and best of luck with your book.If you would like to be interviewed, contact us through our website